Beck Center and Tower
The prominent location of the School of Hotel Administration at Cornell University’s south entrance symbolizes SHA’s role on campus and in the world as the leading institution of hospitality and hotel management. However, its existing building was anything but hospitable. Often confused with the adjoining Statler Hotel, it had become an accumulation of spaces that neither attracted nor engaged students.
The new Beck Center reinforces the school’s mission of hospitality with an expansive glass curtain wall facade that essentially turns the building inside out, exposing the activity inside. It has become the place to see and be seen. Four new tiered classrooms and one renovated 775-seat auditorium form the cornerstone of the academic program, whose curriculum includes a popular wine tasting course—an unwritten requisite for Cornell seniors.
At the heart of the school, the innovative orientation of the classrooms and auditorium creates a three-story atrium that is highly coveted for school and private functions. With two-column supports to reduce the impact on the existing underground mechanical systems, the addition literally hangs from a two-story-tall truss. As the project’s second phase, the Statler Tower renovation captured additional space in the building and added to the prominence of SHA in the campus fabric. The expansion and renovation of the tower, formerly used to store theater sets, created a multidisciplinary research and entrepreneurship center and added a multi-story curtainwall that welcomes visitors to Cornell’s campus.